Lawyering up!

A MEMORABLE EVENT in the Signet Library on Tuesday this week when best-selling author Val McDermid hosted the launch of Daniel Gray’s new book, Scribbles in the Margin. Publisher Bloomsbury Book’s Charlotte Atyeo tweeted, “Oh my, the Signet Library is stunning” which was a pretty representative response. Introducing the evening, Val McDermid said “it certainly means something that some people decided to build such a place dedicated to books”. Everyone at the WS Society is delighted when a new audience is able to appreciate and enjoy this amazing place, and hopes to welcome them and others to similar cultural events in the very near future. Daniel Gray will certainly be back very soon.

ON THE SAME evening the WS Council met for the second quarterly meeting of the year. In May, seven council members stand down, and seven new members are appointed at the AGM in June. With so many new Writers to the Signet being admitted in recent years the Council is an important vehicle for lawyers in practice to engage with the Society. WS governance ensures, through a set of criteria, that the Council is representative of the WS body as a whole, and the Society is always pleased that so many WS are eager to be involved in investing their time to promote the Society. Increasing diversity and widening participation are key themes of the Society’s strategy. The Council meeting heard on Tuesday that 20 Writers to the Signet and 10 Associate Writers to the Signet will be admitted next month, continuing the high number of new admissions. The admission ceremony will be combined with the Society’s AGM on 30 May when the Keeper of the Signet, Lord Mackay of Clashfern will give an address.

IT IS DIFFICULT to ignore the endless “Breaking News” in America just now. It is also not hard to see that lawyers are all over everything in the US, whether it is Jim Comey, sacked FBI director, Sally Yates, sacked Acting Attorney General, or even breakfast TV presenters, like President Trump’s bête noire, Joe Scarborough, resurrecting his legal career on Wednesday this week to examine the case against Trump for obstruction of justice. All things considered, then, this was probably not the week President Donald Trump wanted to remind people that his lawyers were Chambers 2016 “Russian Law Firm of the Year”. However, it was Trump’s insistence this week that Morgan Lewis, his tax attorneys, release a certified letter stating “with a few exceptions… your tax returns do not reflect any income of any type from Russian sources” which turned the media spotlight onto the firm.

EMPLOYING OVER 3000 lawyers in 30 cities around the world, Morgan Lewis happily paraded the accolade on their website, hailing the “prestigious honour” which recognised the firm’s work in Russia’s energy and finance sectors. The tell-tale phrase “with a few exceptions” did not go unnoticed: Saturday Night Live’s spoof newscasters on Weekend Update commented “’With a few exceptions’ is not a comforting phrase. That’s like hearing ‘don’t worry. All the kids made it back from the fieldtrip with a few exceptions.’” The same show saw the return of Melissa McCarthy’s legendary impression of hapless Press Secretary Sean Spicer, with “Spicey” telling the press, “Trump is innocent. How do we know? Because he told us so. Period. Then he hired lawyers to agree with him. And they’re going to prove it with a certified letter which you know is the truth because it costs an extra $2 to have it certified.”

THURSDAY MORNING SAW yet more lawyers enter the frame, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Prosecutor to investigate the Trump team’s ties to Russia. On accepting the role, Mueller immediately resigned from Boston law firm WilmerHale to avoid any conflict of interest questions – other WilmerHale partners represent the President’s daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband, Special Adviser Jared Kushner, as well as the highly controversial Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman, (already the subject of a federal criminal investigation into ties with Vladimir Putin). As Fred Rodell “the bad boy of legal academia” wrote in 1939’s Woe Unto You, Lawyers, “it is lawyers who run our civilization for us… most Presidents, Governors, Commissioners, along with their advisers… are lawyers”. The current President, of course, is a notable exception.

ON THURSDAY EVENING, psychologist, author and magician Richard Wiseman advertised his new show The Walter Scott Seance opening at the Signet Library in June. All of the tickets for the 4 preview shows sold out in exactly 10 minutes.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.